Encyclopedia Astronautica
1966.05.17 - Launch of Gemini IX was postponed when Agena target vehicle failed to achieve orbit.

The scheduled launch of Gemini IX was postponed when target launch vehicle 5303 malfunctioned and, as a result, Gemini Agena target vehicle 5004 failed to achieve orbit. Launch and flight were normal until about 120 seconds after liftoff, 10 seconds before booster engine cutoff.

At that point, booster engine No. 2 gimbaled to full pitchdown position. Automatic correction was ineffective. Stabilization was achieved after booster separation, but in the meantime the vehicle had executed a 216-degree pitchdown maneuver and was pointing toward Cape Kennedy at a climbing angle of about 13 degrees above the horizontal. Ground guidance was also lost, and the vehicle continued on the new trajectory with normal sequencing through vernier engine cutoff. The Agena separated normally but could not attain orbit. It fell into the Atlantic Ocean some 90 miles off the Florida coast about seven and one-half minutes after launch. Subsequent investigation indicated that the failure had been caused by a short in the sevo control circuit.

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